SuperGen UK Centre for Marine Energy Research

Phase 4: December 2016 - May 2019

In the phase four, the core consortium now consists of the University of Edinburgh, the University of Strathclyde, the University of Exeter, the Swansea University and the Cranfield University. The consortium includes the associate universities of Cambridge, Cardiff, Dundee, Heriot-Watt, Imperial, Lancaster, Manchester, Plymouth, Oxford and Southampton. In addition to conducting a core research programme UKCMER will coordinate the activities of four additional Grand Challenge projects and six Felx Fund projects, co-funded by Wave Energy Scotland, looking at specific challenges for the marine energy sector. 


This page is divided into the following sections:

  1. Challenge Arena and New Opportunities
  2. Programme and Objectives
  3. Flex Fund Projects


Challenge Arena and New Opportunities

Remaining challenges in fundamental to applied research in wave and tidal energy can be grouped in areas that resonate with the recommendations in recent roadmaps and the Technology Innovation Needs Assessments.

  • Predicting and delivering performance - There will remain a need, even after deployment of multiple units of converged and proven technologies, to understand the natural resource and predict energy and economic yield from arrays of wave or tidal devices.  This will require continuing development of more complex, fully coupled, 3-D and time-varying hydrodynamic, structural and electromechanical models both in numerical form and at tank scale.  The scale and in-sea measurements must drive numerical and physical closure between predicted and actual performance, mandating further development of control systems that increase yield and durability.
  • Manufacturability and installability of components, subsystems and technologies - From component through subsystem to device level there will remain a need to correctly select existing technology, or manufacture and prove new technologies, so that they can be manufactured, or system-integrated, into a fit for purpose device.
  • Survival and durability under extreme loadings - Components, subsystems, technologies and structures have to be selected or designed and manufactured to withstand the most extreme loadings outside normal operation at the minimum economic cost taking account of fluid:structure and electromechanical interactions. 
  • Increased availability through reliability, operability and maintainability under fatigue loadings - In addition to surviving extremes the lifetime energy production must be maximised by extending mean times between failure through better operation and maintenance and greater resistance to wear and failure under repetitive loadings.
  • Economic, social and environmental interaction and affordability - The lifetime costs of energy have to become competitive with mainstream renewable energy technologies and the social and environmental interaction has to be understood and deemed acceptable.
  • New opportunities - Within offshore renewable energy (ORE) there are significant common needs for fundamental to applied research spanning wave, tidal, offshore wind and, now, floating offshore wind energy technologies.  These include analysis and performance prediction of fully coupled hydro- aero- and electro-dynamic devices; fluid-structure interaction; cost effective manufacture, installation, operation and maintenance; survival of extreme and fatigue loadings; environmental and economic viability.  Addressing this is critical if the UK is to engage in trans-continental alliances that are building up to address the evolution from on- to off-shore to deep-water installations of wind energy technology. 

Based on these opportunities and challenges, the research in the fourth phase of UKCMER will focus on:

  • Methods to enhance the performance of tidal turbines that recognise that arrays of machines are affected by both the interactions of the water flowing passed the devices and the electrical infrastructure which collects the energy generated and sends it to the grid.
  • The development of design tools to assist in the optimal design of wave energy converters, tidal turbines and floating wind turbines that account for the random nature of both the waves and turbulence in the marine environment. 3.
  • Methods to explore the response of wave energy converters, tidal turbines and floating wind turbines to extreme loading events, recognising that such events arise from a combination of steep (rather than large waves) and the state of the device when the waves reach it.
  • Examining how the wakes of tidal turbines deployed in farms interact with each other so that the power production from the farm can be optimised.
  • And finally, how new designs and materials can improve the structural integrity of offshore renewable energy converters.


Programme and Objectives

The evolved UKCMER will operate in five collaborative scientific work packages,  extending from Phase 3, advised and revised by the experience in and evidence from the sector over the last two years.  The continuing GC projects at Edinburgh, Swansea and Cardiff would be integrated into the programme. The work packages are:

  • WP1 – Control and performance 
  • WP2 - Risk and reliability            
  • WP3 - Extreme loads and survivability
  • WP4 - Array interaction  
  • WP5 - Materials and Structural Integrity for ORE applications 


Flex Fund Projects

The UKCMER award included £325k of flexible funding to support a competitive call for new research projects aligned with the objectives of the Phase 4 award and delivering research in wave, tidal and floating offshore wind energy.  The aims included: increasing the ability to predict and deliver performance; improving the design, manufacture and installation of components, subsystems and technologies; improving device survival and durability under extreme loadings and increasing availability through improved operability, maintainability and reliability under fatigue loadings.  Wave Energy Scotland (WES) contributed equally to the fund to support wave energy-specific research projects, or those that benefitted both the wave and tidal sectors.  Additionally 4 one-week-long experimental or test campaigns in the FloWave Ocean Energy Research Facility were made available from the Phase 4 Flex Fund.  

The UKCMER-WES Flex Fund projects and partners are:

  • MetaTide: A new meta-material for enhanced fatigue life of tidal energy converters (Edinburgh, Dr Ignazio Maria Viola)
  • Tidal stream turbine fence technology demonstrator (Oxford, Prof Richard Willden)
  • AD-CON: Additive Manufacture of Kevlar Reinforced Concrete Composite Structures (Dundee, Prof Rod Jones)
  • SynMaRE: Improving performance and durability analysis techniques of rope moorings (Exeter, Dr Sam Weller)
  • TACOE: Tidal Array Control and Optimisation of Energy (Southampton, Dr Luke Myers)
  • A Robust Framework for Nonlinear Probabilistic Extreme Wave Loading Design and Testing: Buoy to WEC (Oxford, Dr Ton Van den Bremer)